Rep. Roger Marshall said Thursday in Hays that Kansas will benefit from the nation’s two new international trade agreements.
“The biggest news in recent memory, probably the most significant historical news to agriculture in my lifetime, are the two trade agreements that the president has completed now on this last week,” said Marshall, who held a town hall late in the day Thursday at Hays Medical Center.
Speaking to about 20 people gathered in the Hadley Room, the U.S. congressman for Kansas earlier in the day held town halls in Garden City, Dodge City and Colby, with plans to head east when he finished in Hays.
Before taking questions at HaysMed, Marshall talked about the trade agreements, noting that 40% of the Kansas economy is dependent on agriculture.
President Donald Trump signed the trade deal with China on Wednesday, relaxing some of the tariffs he imposed in return for China agreeing to buy more U.S. products. Trump is set to sign the bipartisan U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement this coming week.
“The trade agreement with China, putting it into perspective, last year we sold them $70 million of beef,” Marshall said. “This year they’ve committed to buying $1 billion worth. So we’re going to move from $70 million to $1 billion. The big picture is last year we sold them $9 billion dollars of agriculture products, we’re going to go to $37 billion this year. So … hopefully moving some of these mountains of grains that we still have around here.”
Asked about exports on Friday, Midland Marketing Coop Inc. general manager Mike Royer said the trade deal will have an impact, as none of the grain at Midland’s 11 elevators in the area is currently going to buyers for exports.
“The big grain companies aren’t exporting, so they’re not buying it for export,” Royer said. “A lot of the terminal elevators are full, which is probably why we have seen grain piles. If exports start shipping that’ll start cleaning up these facilities.”
Midland had more than 2 million bushels of milo on the ground after harvest last fall, said Doug Dreiling, central area manager. That’s been pared to 250,000 bushels still on the ground at Plainville and 330,000 bushels in Palco.
“The harvest was just so good that we ran out of space, and we had good weather so we had a short harvest,” Dreiling said. “Our demand now is more domestic in relation to the buyers around here, the ethanol plants.”
There’s no export demand, he said.
“They’re not loading trainloads of milo to go anywhere,” Dreiling said.
“Absolutely,” said Royer, that the China trade deal should boost demand. “I don’t know how fast we’ll see that benefit, it could be three or four months before we see any effect.”
At the town hall, Marshall said Kansas can also expect to see manufacturing jobs from the agreements.
“It certainly is going to move manufacturing jobs back here,” he said. “That’s probably the bigger victory for Kansas.”
Marshall went on to say that with both trade agreements, “these are two huge wins for America, they both will mean thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars of increased exports from Kansas.”
In China there are also great opportunities for corn, especially for ethanol and dry distiller grains, byproducts of corn.
Also, he explained, Kansas makes almost half the world’s supply of pet food, with plants extending from Emporia, to Topeka, up through Atchison, all the way through St. Joe.
“This will be the first time we have access to China for our pet food,” Marshall said. The Asian nation’s 1.5 billion people represent a huge market.
“They love doing what Americans are doing,” Marshall said. “So the pet food industry is really growing in America because Americans are having more pets and China wants to be like Americans, so their pet industry is really growing, as well.”